Townsend Insurance Services

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Ms. Tonya McDonough was seeking assistance in opening an insurance agency in Fayette County and was encouraged by a SBA micro lender to reach out to the Saint Vincent College Small Business Development Center (SBDC).  Upon meeting with SBDC consultants at the Fayette County Outreach location, she shared her desire in opening an insurance agency in Uniontown. Her agency would offer products such as home, auto, property, workers compensation, and life and health insurance to customers in the area of its Pennsylvania, Maryland, Ohio, and West Virginia target markets. Tonya was already a fully licensed agent specializing in personal lines, commercial lines, life and health to help her clients analyze and manage their insurance needs.

Tonya had always dreamed of owning her own agency and now a timely and unique opportunity has presented itself. She had entered into discussions to open the first Farmers Insurance agency in Fayette County as Farmers continued their push into the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States. However, she had previously suffered a medical condition that negatively impacted her credit score. She had approached traditional lenders but was unable to obtain commercial financing.

The SBDC had to work under a very aggressive project timeline as Farmers wanted to finalize her contract within one month. During the next several weeks, through one-on-one meetings and e-mail exchanges, the SBDC was able to assist Tonya with the development of a formal business plan. The plan was complemented by timely industry information and market research, detailed demographic analysis of her proposed location, and comprehensive financial projections.

With the assistance of the SBDC, Tonya was able to submit her business plan and loan request to regional SBA micro lender Bridgeway Capital in a matter of weeks. Her loan was approved, and Tonya opened her agency the first week of July of 2014. She was thrilled with the quick turnaround time of the SBDC, and her business has been exceeding expectations. She also invited the SBDC to participate in her grand opening held over Labor Day weekend. Tonya unquestionably benefitted from the business planning assistance provided by the Saint Vincent College SBDC.